caraga region

Tension grips palm oil land reform areas in Agusan

December 5, 2017

SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur— Tension gripped the palm oil lands in Rosario town already up for final distribution as land reform areas on Dec. 6 after the killing of an agrarian reform beneficiary (ARB) of a splinter group which has camped out in their claimed area since Nov. 11. The killing of Rolando Moreno Sr. on Nov. 28 was believed to have stemmed from animosities between three groups of ARBs who are awaiting installation of their lands as part of the close to 4,000 hectares of palm oil plantation areas of multinational NDC-Guthrie Plantation Inc. (NGPI) which was converted into land reform areas in 1998. Police report said Moreno who confronted a group of ARB members from the rival group led by Nestor Alcular was shot to death at gunpoint. A recorded mobile phone video on the incident will be used by the Municipal Police Office of Rosario town in the filing of formal charges against the perpetrators. Alcular’s faction, which is the original group of NGPI ARB Multi-Purpose Cooperative, protested the final resolution of the Provincial Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of which the writ of reinstallation on the distributed land reform lands will be released this week. Occupied Ahead of the turn-over event, the victim’s group led by Emmanuel Sustino has already occupied their designated areas to start developing the farm and apparently secure their parcel of lands from intruders in the wake of growing hostilities among the infighting ARB factions. Sustino has singled out leaders of Alcular’s group for enriching themselves with the cooperative’s profits while distributing measly amount of dividends to lowly members during yearly assemblies. He particularly cited an instance in the past when cooperative’s board of directors and staff received P20,000 each while the members were only given P1,500 each. Sustino also questioned the unfair policy carried out by Alcular group where the size of an area for every agrarian reform beneficiary will depend on the amount of capital build up it shared which he said runs counter to agrarian reform law of equal distribution of at least three hectares each for ARBs. He also questioned accountability of the hundreds of millions of pesos the cooperative earned in the last three years which members of the splinter groups have been deprived of dividends. Point of interest The third faction led by a certain Abalaya remains mum on the incident although it has been the focus of envy of Alcular’s group after DAR assigned some 307 hectares of replanted palm oil lands already bearing fruits and produced at least P2 million a month. But Alcular’s group which also set up tents near the main entrance of the palm oil plantation has claimed the productive area as theirs being the mother cooperative and has been getting the monthly P2 million earnings since 2014 while there was still no resolution in the subdivision of the palm oil lands. Ouster call In statement written in vernacular, Alcular’s group has called for the ouster of Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Leoncio Bautista as they accused him of favoring the smaller factions with the more productive lands while assigning to them the rest of the less productive over matured 35-year-old pam oil tree areas. “We call on Bautista to divide the land equally in the more productive and less productive areas which is acceptable to the three parties and if you could not resolve this, you better resign,” the statement said. Alcular also wrote a letter to Bautista to issue a Cease and Desist Order to Abalaya and Sustino pending new resolution of the case. Based on their previous agreements, DAR has allocated 444 hectares to Sustino group which has 147 members , Abalaya group with the same 444 hectares for its 146 members while the remaining more than 2,000 hectares goes to Alcular’s group which has more than 800 members. Fair and square Bautista retorted the final resolution in the subdivision of lands was reached in a fair and justifiable manner for the parties to peacefully co-exist to equal rights and access to farm roads leading to the national highway and mountainous areas. DAR officials in a meeting with the three ARB factions and other stakeholders on Oct. 17, handed down the final decision on the distribution of lands because as what DAR Caraga Regional Director Julita Carandang pointed out, “ we could no longer wait for another time because the case has been dragging for such a long time.” Bautista said Alcular only sent a representative during the crucial meeting which could not decide on the final agreement but later the group protested the decision in the meeting with stakeholders on Nov. 9. He said Alcular who was present during the meeting to air their protest has even warned he could no longer control some members to be unruly if their new proposal would not be heeded by the body. But the provincial DAR chief said the new proposal submitted by Alcular’s faction was grossly unfair since they wanted the splinter factions’ areas near the boundaries of converted land reform lands where it is already abandoned in the development of palm oil trees and near influenced areas of the New Peoples Army.

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Local officials told to adopt five endangered tree species

November 28, 2017

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur--Five kinds of endemic trees which are still seen in different parts of the province will be taken care of by local officials to save their diminishing species. This was realized after the provincial government implemented the Community Awareness on Resources and Environment (CARE) project enjoining municipal and barangay officials to adopt the endangered trees found in their respective areas. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Local Government Unit (PENRO-LGU) has identified the endemic trees as White Lauan, two kinds of Philippine Iron Wood or Magcono, Dao, Toog and Narra. Officials at the PENRO-LGU said these rare kinds of trees underwent tedious process in the identification and nomination of possible flora and fauna and inculcating the importance of endemic species conservation before they were submitted for adoption to the host villages where they are still sighted. Among the towns and villages which adopted the endemic trees are Barangay Bitahon in Esperanza town, Barangay Mabuhay in Prosperidad town and Barangay Santiago in San Luis town for White Lauan, Dao and the two Magcono species in Barangay Alegria in San Francisco town and Narra in the poblacions of Sta. Josefa and Veruela towns. Studies showed that the White Lauan (Shorea contorta) which belongs to dipterocarp family is considered endemic and classified as critically endangered based on the Red List 2007 of the International Union for Conservation of the Nature (IUCN). The Philippine Magcono (Xanthostemon verdugonianus), specie of plant which belong to Myrtaceae family is endemic to the Philippines and classified as Vulnerable based on IUCN Red List 2007. The Dao (Dracontomelon dao) although endemic to the Philippines can be also seen in the forests of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Thailand. The Toog (Combretodendron quadrialatum) which is also known as the Philippine Rosewood belongs the Lecythidaceae family. There are only two species of Toog: One occurs in tropical West Africa and the other is found in the Philippines. The Narra (Pterocarpus indicus) which belongs to the Fabaceae family is the Philippine national tree is also classified as vulnerable based on IUCN Red List 2007. These tree species can most likely be seen in Mt. Magdiwata range and other mountainous parts of Agusan del Sur, but illegal logging and timber poaching continues to pose threat in its proliferation. The practice of slash and burn agriculture is also one of the causes of its depleting population. The implementation of the CARE project is considered as a distinct effort to raise the level of environmental awareness of the local government units and their constituents in response to the urgent need to conserve and protect the endangered tree species. On July 15, 1988, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), and Department of Local Government (DLG) have entered into Memorandum of Agreement which gave birth to CARE. DENR Administrative Order No. 30 series of 1992 Section 3.2.C, cites that local governments are encouraged to choose, adopt, protect, and conserve flora and fauna species that are unique to the locality.

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‘Bantay Danao’ volunteers boost skills to safeguard Agusan Marsh

November 28, 2017

PROVINCIAL Capitol, Agusan del Sur--Volunteers guarding the wide Agusan Marsh were recently taught with basic skills on life support and first aid for them to be more capacitated in their tasks. At least 23 “Bantay Danao” volunteers from communities within the extensive nationally-preserved wetlands hurdled the three-day training spearheaded by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office(PDRRMO). Agusan marsh which covers at least 14,800 hectares criss-crossing the towns of San Francisco, Rosario, Bunawan, Veruela, Loreto, Talacogon, Loreto and La Paz, is one of the most ecologically significant wetlands in the country which is found in the heart of Agusan Basin. This vast expanse covers an area of Metro Manila which contains 15 % of the nation’s fresh water resources in the form of swamp forest. The training was organized by Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office – Local Government Unit (PENRO-LGU) under the project Developing Capacities and Seeking Platform of Convergence in the Protection and Conservation of Agusan Marsh. As a joint effort of PENRO-LGU and PDRRMO, the training aims to provide knowledge and skills on basic life support and first aid. Bantay Danao volunteers from District I particularly from Barangays Buenasuerte, Caimpugan, and Ebro of San Francisco; Novele, Tagbayagan, and Bayugan 3 of Rosario; and Mambalili and Nueva Era of Bunawan participated the training. On the first day of the training, participants were enlightened about common diseases and safety precautions in doing first aid. Proper wearing of safety equipment was demonstrated by Mr. Lu. The participants were also taught with appropriate patient assessment on the scene of the accident. A demonstration on patient assessment by FO2 Retuerto followed after the lecture. The afternoon session was simulation on basic life support in case of choking and airway obstruction or difficulty of breathing. The second day started with the demonstration and simulation in doing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and choking first aid by Mr. Lu. The following sessions were mostly lectures on different injuries and appropriate first aid with simulations and demonstrations using the necessary materials and appropriate tools for aiding. An all-inclusive simulation of all the knowledge and skills gained from the past two-day lecture and activity was done on the last day of the training. The participants were laid with a multiple casualty incident situation wherein they were asked to apply all the knowledge and skills learned for the past two days. Rogelio Alvarez from Buenasuerte was thankful on the training extended to them, for the time and the encouragement to learn. He admitted that despite their shortcomings in understanding the technical terms, he learned a lot. For his part, Abelardo Rodrigo from Novele was also thankful. He said that the learning he gained can be used to help his family and neighbours. He even shared that in the past, all he can do was watch on emergencies, but with the learning he gained, he will now be able to help. This training on basic life support and first aid was only part of the series of skill capacity development for the Bantay Danao volunteers spearheaded by the PENRO-LGU. In order to deliver good service and enhance the skills of this conservation group, they also underwent trainings on paralegal and basic wildlife rescue.

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Bislig execs decry illegal police raid on Lozada slay

November 14, 2017

BISLIG City officials have cried foul over what they claimed as illegal entry of police operatives at the premises of thae city hall on Nov. 7 without a search warrant from the court to arrest the suspected lookout of gunmen who shot and killed radio broadcaster Christopher Lozada on Oct. 24. City Mayor Librado Navarro said department heads at the city hall have sent a complaint letter to Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy and Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, regarding the alleged illegal search of a government vehicle at the City General Services Office when they arrested the suspect Felixberto Villocino Jr. The Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Lozada led by Superintendent Cesar Paday-os, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection in Caraga region, raided the City General Services Office to search the Toyota Hi-Ace van believed to be used by the gunmen to kill Lozada, a staunch critic of Navarro who was Station manager of Prime FM Bislig. Lozada, host of the public affairs program “Kuskos-Batikos,” died instantly. His girlfriend, Honey Faith Indog, was wounded. Navarro said Paday-os led a group of 20 police operatives in full battle gear to raid the city hall to conduct the illegal search without even making a courtesy call to him before they carry out their mission. The operatives recovered from Villocino, a hand grenade and a caliber 357 pistol. “I am appealing to the concerned government agencies to please respect the local government of Bislig as an institution,” Navarro said in his message which was posted on his Facebook wall and shared by some netizens. Paday-os was however relieved of his post a day after the raid and was replaced by Superintendent Jun Caduyac but the CIDG refused to make any statement to radio stations in Butuan City making live queries on their public affairs program last week. Navarro described Villocino’s arrest as a “welcome development.” He however raised concerns over what he said was a concerted effort by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security and the SITG Lozada to implicate him in Lozada’s murder, supposedly through Villocino. Navarro, who has been tagged as a “person of interest” in Lozada’s death, had denied any involvement in the attack on the broadcaster. He said even he was tagged as such, not one of any police investigator came to interrogate him personally, so that he could clear his name.

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Displaced flood victims now living in decent new homes

November 13, 2017

LA PAZ, Agusan del Sur--- Some 44 families in Barangay Angeles who were displaced by the disastrous floods that hit the province in February this year now lives in decent new homes to a safer relocation area. The recipients of new wooden shelters were recently moved to a new resettlement area thanks to the joint efforts of the Local Government Unit of La Paz (LGU La Paz), the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur (PGAS), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The resettlement project was realized after stakeholders agreed on a joint initiative with the provincial government providing the roofing materials, the LGU La Paz the wood supplies, TESDA trained all the fathers of the recipient families on carpentry skills while DSWD Caraga extended P40,000 as emergency assistance which serves as the “Food for Work” concept until the houses were finished. Many of the recipients were displaced when their homes were washed out by rampaging floodwaters when flash floods caught thousands of residents by surprised causing a magnitude of calamity in the affected areas. The resettlement area was located to a safer grounds from what used to be a community living near the river banks and the village was renamed “New Angeles.” The turnover ceremony was witnessed representatives from PGAS headed by Forester Ronulfo R. Paler, Acting Provincial Administrator and Tirso Gomez, Municipal Administrator of LGU La Paz together with the two SB Member Weng Pilayo and Gomez Junior.

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Mindanao railway to benefit farmers in remote areas: JV

October 12, 2017

BAYUGAN City--Senator JV Ejercito said the much awaited multi-billion pesos Mindanao Railway Network project, which implementation starts next year would surely benefit villagers in the far-flung areas of this province. The pro administration lawmaker made this assurance during his recent visit to Barangay Sto. Niño of this city , a far-flung mountain village, with the invitation of Governor Adolph Edward Plaza to celebrate the festivities of the residents. “I am very glad and elated to learn that I am the first Senator to visit Barangay Sto. Nino here in Bayugan City. With the construction of the Mindanao railway system, the least benefited citizen here will have the opportunity to develop because it will be much easier to transport your products from one point in Mindanao to another point riding on a train,” Ejercito said. With the realization of the railway system, Sen. Ejercito said income of the people will improve while poverty will be eradicated. “When this time comes, there will be color of peace in Mindanao,” he added. The senator from San Juan City who chairs the Senate Committee on Health visited the province to personally see the newly constructed buildings of D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital located within the government center complex of the Provincial Capitol in Prosperidad town. He vowed to do his best to provide hospital facilities that are lacking at the DOPMH upon his return to his office in Manila. “I am here to see for myself what we can do for Mindanao, Agusan del Sur and Bayugan City. We will make it sure that these places will be genuinely developed whatever we can do in order to deliver the best government services specially on health,” Sen. Ejercito said. While listening to the message of the senator, Gov. Plaza’s attention was caught by plenty of children around the vicinity. Being an advocate of family planning, the governor advised parents to control their overflowing love for each other and suggested that there should only two children per couple to ensure they have enough food for their normal growth while assured of brighter future through good education.

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